Mushtaq warns English players of `spin war` against Pakistan

Karachi: Assistant coach of the England cricket team, former Pakistan leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed has advised his players to be prepared for a "spin war" in the upcoming Test series between the two sides in UAE.

"I have a feeling that Pakistan will try to have pitches that offer encouragement to the slow bowlers. And I have already told the English players to be prepared for a spin war," Mushtaq said.

The former leggie is presently vacationing in Lahore and will join the England team in Dubai on January 4.

"The England team is a very disciplined and professional outfit but I have tried to convey to them that if they want to dominate teams in Asia they need to rely more on spinners," he said.

England outclassed India at home this summer to grab the number one Test spot in the ICC rankings but was drubbed in the return one-day series that followed, with their batsmen struggling against the Indian spinners.

"They have been planning for the series against Pakistan as proper professionals and that is why they have recalled Monty Panesar to the side," he said.

Mushtaq said he saw a lot of pressure and focus on Graeme Swann and Saeed Ajmal in the coming series.

"They are the best off spin bowlers today and there will be a lot of expectations from them. So the focus will be on them and it is going to be a real contest between them. It remains to be seen who produces the goods for his team."

Mushtaq said he rates both Swann and Ajmal very highly because of their recent performances.

"Swann has been absolutely brilliant in the last two years for England while Ajmal has steadily improved and has now also made his mark in Test cricket," he added. Mushtaq, who has been given a fresh three-year contract by the England and Wales cricket Board, said both bowlers will have to be at their best in the series.

"I think the competition and focus on them will remind me of those days when I and Shane Warne played in a series. There were always comparisons and focus was on us and both of us wanted to be the best. That I think will be the case in the coming series for Swann and Ajmal."

Mushtaq said the series should be well contested going by Pakistan`s recent form in all formats of the game.

"But be assured England has been doing their homework and they are attaching a lot of significance to this series, so they will be ready for Pakistan."

Asked if there would be any awkwardness as England will be playing against his former side, Mushtaq said as a professional his first duty was to ensure he fulfilled his duties and responsibilities for the England team.

"Emotions become secondary in a professional environment but obviously being a Pakistani, I follow their performances closely," he said.

Mushtaq was confident that the upcoming series between India and Australia and Pakistan and England would give Test cricket a big boost as there was already huge interest in these series.


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